For the third year in a row, strawberries take the top spot as the fruit that has the most residual pesticides on them. Making up the top three was spinach, where 97 percent of the samples contained pesticide residue, and nectarines, which trailed closely at 94 percent.
Spinach samples had, on average, nearly twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop.
Avocados and sweet corn lead the pack.
The "Clean Fifteen" list includes - in order - avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.
"It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood", said Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with EWG. And despite fruits and vegetables being an essential component of a healthy diet, consuming them, and the potential pesticides they're littered with, "may pose subtle health risks". This list compiles the 12 conventionally grown - which means not organic - fruits and vegetables that contain the highest pesticide residue.
It found nearly 70% of "conventionally grown produce" has pesticides and almost all - 98% - of strawberries, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples contained at least one pesticide. A previous study of male participants found similar associations between consumption of high-residue produce and reproductive health. Both studies enrolled couples seeking treatment at a fertility clinic, and found that the frequency of eating low-residue fruits and vegetables was not associated with fertility problems. And the organization is suggesting that when buying organic produce is not an option, shoppers should choose conventional foods with lower pesticide residue.
Apples, grapes, tomatoes and peaches also made the guide's "Dirty Dozen" list for containing detectable pesticide residues.
According to USA Today, the group argued that the EWG's Dirty Dozen list is "unsupportable", and cited federal government data indicating that the residues were "well below safety levels" set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"There is a reason pediatricians encourage parents to consult EWG's guide and take other steps to reduce their child's exposure pesticides", said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticide residues. However, a recent study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, suggests that soaking produce in a solution of baking soda and water is a more effective way to rid fruits and veggies of pesticides.